Review

Review: Manchester Happened by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

“He could not wait to get home and tell people how in Britain the sun had moods. It barely retired in summer yet in winter it could not be bothered to rise.”


Genre: Literary Fiction, Short Stories
Published: May 23rd, 2019
Pages: 306
Rate: 3.5 ⭐⭐⭐
Get a copy: Text Book Centre

Goodreads Synopsis
How far does one have to travel to find home elsewhere? The stories in Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s collection attempt to measure that distance. Centered around the lives of Ugandans in Britain, Let’s Tell This Story Properly features characters both hyper-visible and unseen—they take on jobs at airport security, care for the elderly, and work in hospitals, while remaining excluded from white, British life. As they try to find their place, they drift from a home that feels further and further away. In an ambitious collection by the critically acclaimed author of Kintu, Let’s Tell This Story Properly explores what happens to those who leave.

My Take
Manchester Happened is my first introduction to Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, and if you read my 2021 Reading Goals you already know she’s an author I want to explore this year. It’s official, I’m a Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi Stan! I love her writing, it’s so captivating and had me wanting to read on and read more. With Manchester Happened, I quite enjoyed the story collections, where I loved some more than others.


Manchester Happened is a collection of 12 stories set in Uganda and Britain. The book is divided into 2 parts, Departing and Returning. I found that I loved the stories from the Returning more.

I’ll be ranking the stories in order of how much I loved them with a word or two of my thoughts on the story.

5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

  • The Aftertaste of Success

This was my all time favourite story in the book. I finished it and read it again immediately. The traditions, the characters *chefs kiss* I would love more.

4.5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

  • Memoirs of a Namaaso

This story is told from the point of view of a dog. It’s quite fascinating.

4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

  • Let’s Tell This Story Properly

Tied by the shackles of tradition. Lots of lies and cheating.

  • My Brother, Bwemage

The story of an outsider, quite entertaining. I loved it.

  • Christmas Is Coming

Alcoholism and abuse. What’s a home?

  • Our Allies The Colonies

The Kenya setting and Swahili words sprinkled in the story made me so happy.

“Kampala City centre feels like a toddler learning to walk. There is exuberance despite the many falls.”

3 ⭐⭐⭐

  • Manchester Happened

The plot felt jumpy and too much is happening.

  • Something Inside So Strong

It was an okay read

  • Malik’s Door

Making yourself small for a man.

She Is Our Stupid
I didn’t care for it, it was okay.

2 ⭐⭐

  • The Nod

Meh and Boring

  • Love Made In Manchester

Boring and uninteresting. I almost dnf’d it.

One thing I’m appreciative about Manchester Happened is that it didn’t feel like short stories and the ending, even if they are open, felt satisfactory. It’s also quite interesting seeing the story titles appearing in the stories. (this is my new obsession in books)


Have you read Manchester Happened? What did you think about it?

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